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Managing EPI

Dogs with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) have a malabsorption and maldigestion condition where the pancreas is no longer producing enough pancreatic enzymes to digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Because of this, dogs (and also cats) will often present with unexplained weight loss, diarrhea/cow-patty like yellow/pale stools. Although EPI was once thought to be just a German Shepherd condition, it is now found in all breeds. That is why Epi4Dogs was created, because of Izzy, a little Spanish Water Dog born on July 11, 2005 diagnosed with EPI on December 15, 2006, who wasn’t supposed to have ‘that German Shepherd condition’. Izzy passed away on February 13, 2020 at almost 15 years old.  May her legacy of helping others with EPI live on………..

The end of a Journey……

It is with deep sadness to share with you that the inspiration for Epi4Dogs, Izzy, passed away on February 13, 2020, from kidney failure at the age of 15. Our hearts are broken…..

IZZY
Izzy was a funny, sweet, joyful and very affectionate plain brown little Spanish water dog, who had a huge personality and was so full of life!

Every day for 15 years, Izzy would wake me up and we would start our routine. I swear she woke up smiling, with a twinkle in her eye and started planning her mischievous little antics for that day. She sure could make us laugh. Izzy was such a little smarty pants that I could just talk to her and she’d do whatever I asked. And she loved to tease the other dogs in the house. Everything that was hers was hers, and what was theirs was hers too. We dubbed her “greedy girl”. But on the flip side, she was a great little helper.  No matter what I asked her to do for me, she did. Whether is was to bring something to me like my shoes, (and she always brought the correct matching set of footwear too), glasses, clothing, jewelry, etc. Or get something from my pocketbook like keys, wallet or comb, or if she had a job to do like put away the toys or carry dirty laundry to the laundry room, or bring me something I needed that I was working on. It was uncanny how she knew what I needed when I asked for something. When we went places, folks had fun with her because we would take an object from their person, hide it and Izzy would find it and return the item back to the right person within seconds. She loved going to the nursing home and always knew which patients needed a little extra time or doggie kisses.

Over time, she developed multiple health conditions in addition to EPI, but had such a positive spirit that she not only survived she flourished through it all. Until last week, when the light went out of her eyes and I knew it was time to let her go.   We had a vet come to the house Feb 13th and Izzy passed quietly in my arms in our home. But even before she left this earth, she still managed to help one more dog, by giving her remaining enzymes to the vet that helped her cross over, to help another client that was struggling.  Ironically, on the same day that Izzy passed away, a research grad student was approved to do EPI research on a new EPI Genetics Study at Clemson University.

She was my best friend, my all-time companion, once in a life-time heart dog, who taught me so much. She literally changed the course of my life. So many have said that I took such good care of her and gave her so much of my time… but they all had it backwards, I was the lucky one to have had Izzy in my life!  God Speed Sweet Girl.

IZZY’S LEGACY
Izzy, who developed EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), was the inspiration for Epi4Dogs, that was started 12 years ago and later became a non-profit charitable organization.  At the time of her diagnosis she was only 1+1/2 years old. I had no idea what this condition was. When I researched it, it said only German Shepherds and Rough Coated Collies developed EPI. What? Izzy was a Spanish Water Dog! And then when I found out how expensive the enzymes were. I was in shock. I remember my husband saying, you know we can’t afford these enzymes for the life of the dog. But how could we put her down, she was such a sweet little being.  So, I started researching the internet. Luckily, I eventually connected with Enzyme Diane. Thank Goodness… because of Enzyme Diane we were able to afford the enzymes for Izzy and I will forever be grateful to her!

In the meantime, I was troubled that there wasn’t more current EPI information out there, EPI research was not really being pursued, and that it was a misnomer that only GSDs and Rough Coated Collies got EPI. So, Epi4Dogs was born.

The objective of Epi4Dogs was and continues to be to bring better awareness to the condition and to help those struggling with EPI. And to further EPI research in hopes of finding answers as to why EPI happens. Epi4Dogs now has over 7,500 members and has assisted almost 3,000,000 people world-wide since it’s existence. And finally, EPI is now recognized in all breeds.

Over the years, Epi4Dogs has connected with some of the best veterinarian researchers and veterinarian universities worldwide. We have collaborated with some on research, and some have advised and guided us. Others have sought us out for advice and information. We have been published multiple times and have presented at many seminars and conferences through the years. Some of the EPI research that Epi4Dogs has collaborated on has been on Genetics, Bile Acids, Dysbiosis, Vitamin Supplementation, Metabolomics, Microbiome, Slippery Elm, Enteric Coated Enzymes, etc.

In honor of Izzy’s legacy and all the advances that have been made because of her inspiration. I would like to acknowledge and thank those that have helped us accomplish so much.  First, I am forever thankful to:

* Dr. David A Williams (Univ of Illinois), the premier vet researcher & developer of the gold-standard TLI test who has become my mentor in all things EPI and who guided and advised me along the way.  Dr. Williams is also the lead investigator in multiple EPI research projects along with:
* Dr. Patrick Barko (Univ of Illinois), an innovative and rising star in research, currently one of the lead researchers in the Metabolomic & Microbiome study.
* Dr. Leigh Anne Clark (Clemson Univ) who has done multiple EPI genetics studies and is continuing her work on EPI genetics.
* Dr. Jan Suchodolski (Texas A&M Gastrointestinal Lab /TAMU) who has also done multiple studies on EPI gut flora/microbiome.
* Dr. Kate Tsai (Clemson)
* Dr. Jorg Steiner (TAMU),
* Dr. Cyrus (TAMU)
* Dr. Anne Mossler (Germany),
* Dr. Penny Watson (UK)

All who have all contributed to Epi4Dogs and EPI Research.

And last but not least, a very special and heartfelt thanks to Craig Taylor who created our fantastic website, and to the wonderful, staff at Epi4Dogs (Andrea, Ann, Barb, Craig, Dar, Devika, Diane, Elisabeth, Fiona, Jean, Jill, Judy, Julie, Madelon, Paula, Shirl, Staci, Susan, Terry and Tracey). All who volunteer their time and knowledge 24/7 to help others.

Thank you to all who have helped make Epi4dogs be what it is today and may Izzy’s EPI legacy continue to help others for as long as needed…………..

Olesia C. Kennedy, Founder
Epi4Dogs Foundation, Inc.

EPI dog “Johnny”, from Rescue to Service dog!     

Johnny: a young St. Bernard mix born in El Paso, TX in 2020. There are a lot of words to describe him: fluffy, freckled, goofy, sweet, clever. With his big paws and expressive eyes, he’s very charming and garners “what a pretty dog” comments everywhere we go. Johnny is not just a handsome dog, though – he’s also my best friend, and he saved my life.

I have struggled with chronic illness for most of my life. When I was younger, it was mostly clinical depression and social anxiety. Over the years, I’ve also developed PTSD, OCD, and debilitating chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I’ve been in therapy for years. I take medications daily. But as of last year I was still seriously struggling, and my disabilities were impacting my ability to function and perform the basics of life day to day.

In 2020, an adoption counselor at an animal shelter in Utah recommended Johnny – at the time known as Scotty – to me based on my living situation and lifestyle. I was uncertain, but made the appointment – a few hours later, a skinny, freckled dog, with the biggest puppy eyes you’ve ever seen and ears and paws too big for his body, was walked out from behind a counter. The leash was handed to me, and it was instantly over for me. This was my dog, and he was going to change my life, and I knew it right then and there.

I had been informed beforehand that Johnny had exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI, a condition in which a dog’s pancreas is atrophied and unable to produce the digestive enzymes needed to process food and absorb nutrients. EPI requires lifelong treatment – much like my own conditions, it was lifelong, irreversible, and would need to be managed for the rest of his life.

Johnny had been diagnosed with EPI at the shelter but was still in the beginning phases of his treatment, and it showed. He was emaciated, his ribs and all his joints sharp and pointy underneath thin skin; he was ravenous, eating and eating but never satiated; and he was lethargic, unable to go out and walk for more than ten minutes at a time.

We consulted lots of resources – the EPI4dogs website, people who had experience with the condition, Johnny’s veterinarian – and spent the next few months ironing out a treatment regimen that would work for him. Johnny immediately started to blossom – he not only put on all the weight he had lost, but kept growing, and growing, and growing, and it soon became apparent he must have a giant dog breed somewhere in his lineage! (As it turns out, it’s St. Bernard!)

As Johnny became healthy and his temperament began to truly shine through, it quickly became apparent that he had all the qualities that make for a competent service animal. He was laid back, but motivated; even-keeled; friendly to everyone and anyone, but not overly enthusiastic with strangers. I was fortunate to have a background in animal training, and started working with him – he surpassed my greatest expectations, and took to service work like a fish to water.

                                                                                                                       

Nowadays, Johnny is happy and healthy as a dog can be. In fact, when we recently saw a new vet for the first time after moving states, he did not believe Johnny could be an EPI dog until I showed him the paperwork and results from the tests the shelter had performed. He accompanies me on all kinds of adventures – to the grocery store, the bank, medical appointments, restaurants, hikes, you name it and he’s up for doing it together.

Johnny, like all service dogs, is not a pet. He is a partner, one half of a service dog team. He has given me so much of my life and independence back. I take less of the medications that cause me to be slow-thinking and fatigued. My migraines are less frequent, and less severe. I can go out in public, and do things that, for most people, are simple, like picking up groceries, but which have always caused me to have debilitating anxiety attacks.

This time last year, I was struggling with thoughts of suicide. I found no joy in life and didn’t know how much longer I could struggle through trying life to feel some small semblance of comfort or happiness. Today, I accomplished what I never would have been able to a year ago. I went on a hike with Johnny, completed three loads of laundry, went to the grocery store, and, most importantly, woke up looking forward to the day instead of dreading it.

It really is serendipitous, me and Johnny coming together: both of us born in Texas but somehow ending up miles away in Utah at the same time; finding each other at just the right moment, somehow. I truly believe we rescued each other, and that we are able to live day to day happy and healthy because we are two halves of one whole, a team now and forever.

 

Getting Involved

A treatable condition

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) in dogs and cats is when acinar cells atrophy, sometimes called Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy (PAA), in the exocrine part of the pancreas and is no longer producing sufficient digestive enzymes: Lipase, Amylase, Trypsin & Protease that are needed to properly digest nutrients from food. This leads to maldigestion and malabsorption causing weight loss, loose stools, coprophagia, SIBO / SID (small intestinal dysbiosis), low B12. EPI in dogs and cats is manageable with the right balance of pancreatic enzymes with every meal, an agreeable diet, B12 supplementation if needed, along with appropriate SID management with prebiotics, or prebiotics with probiotics, or antibiotics if needed to get SID under control.

Who We Are

Epi4Dogs is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Public Charity EPI Research and Awareness organization with zero dollars for administration fees as Epi4Dogs is 100% volunteer-based. Recommendations on this site are supported by EPI veterinarian protocols, veterinarian EPI researchers, veterinarian publications, along with actual EPI pet owner’s day-to-day observations and experience. Epi4Dogs is GDPR Compliant.

Awareness

Epi4Dogs has and continues to assist and collaborate with various vet schools on EPI genetics, gastrointestinal, and nutritional research to further the understanding of EPI. We have been published multiple times in general media publications and have co-authored veterinarian research publications.

Mission statement

Epi4Dogs Foundation Inc.’s purpose is advancement of science and education of EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency for dogs) by raising funds for EPI research that will yield useful insights or positive outcomes in better managing the EPI health condition in dogs and cats, and promoting EPI education through EPI awareness efforts by educating the public and offering assistance to pet owners, vet schools, veterinarians and veterinary researchers.

A community of volunteers

Our goal is to have the most current EPI information all in one place to better assist the veterinarian community, to help the EPI pet owner readily recognize EPI signs, and to encourage all to work together for the best possible outcome for the EPI dog (and cat)!

Years since original 2008 website launch

Years/+ since new website re-launch 7-2018

Total registered members

Website page hits since re-launch

Member countries

Publications, collaborations, conferences attended & seminar stalls held

Total website page hits

As of May 28, 2021

Learn

Important introductory information

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News & Announcements

2021 June: Get ready for 2022 EPI Calendars !!!

Coming Soon ! 
June Announcement for 2022 EPI Calendars.   Information will be uploaded on the EPI Products Page https://epi4dogs.com/epi-products/ 

Izzy's passing February 13, 2020

It is with deep sadness to share with you that the inspiration for Epi4Dogs, Izzy, passed away on
February 13, 2020, from kidney failure at the age of 15. Our hearts are broken and our home is
so silent and empty……

IZZY
Izzy was a funny, sweet, joyful and very affectionate plain brown little Spanish water dog, who had a huge personality and was so full of life!  

Every day for 15 years, Izzy would wake me up and we would start our routine. I swear she woke up smiling, with a twinkle in her eye and started planning her mischievous little antics for that day. She sure could make us laugh. Izzy was such a little smarty pants that I could just talk to her and she’d do whatever I asked. And she loved to tease the other dogs in the house. Everything that was hers was hers, and what was theirs was hers too. We dubbed her “greedy girl”. But on the flip side, she was a great little helper.  No matter what I asked her to do for me, she did. Whether is was to bring something to me like my shoes, (and she always brought the correct matching set of footwear too), glasses, clothing, jewelry, etc. Or get something from my pocketbook like keys, wallet or comb, or if she had a job to do like put away the toys or carry dirty laundry to the laundry room, or bring me something I needed that I was working on. It was uncanny how she knew what I needed when I asked for something. When we went places, folks had fun with her because we would take an object from their person, hide it and Izzy would find it and return the item back to the right person within seconds. She loved going to the nursing home and always knew which patients needed a little extra time or doggie kisses.

Over time, she developed multiple health conditions in addition to EPI, but had such a positive spirit that she not only survived she flourished through it all. Until last week, when the light went out of her eyes and I knew it was time to let her go.   We had a vet come to the house Feb 13th and Izzy passed quietly in my arms in our home. But even before she left this earth, she still managed to help one more dog, by giving her remaining enzymes to the vet that helped her cross over, to help another client that was struggling.  Ironically, on the same day that Izzy passed away, a research grad student was approved to do EPI research on a new EPI Genetics Study at Clemson University. 

She was my best friend, my all-time companion, once in a life-time heart dog, who taught me so much. She literally changed the course of my life. So many have said that I took such good care of her and gave her so much of my time… but they all had it backwards, I was the lucky one to have had Izzy in my life!  God Speed Sweet Girl.

 

IZZY’S LEGACY
Izzy, who developed EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), was the inspiration for Epi4Dogs, that was started 12 years ago and later became a non-profit charitable organization.  At the time of her diagnosis she was only 1+1/2 years old. I had no idea what this condition was. When I researched it, it said only German Shepherds and Rough Coated Collies developed EPI. What? Izzy was a Spanish Water Dog! And then when I found out how expensive the enzymes were. I was in shock. I remember my husband saying, you know we can’t afford these enzymes for the life of the dog. But how could we put her down, she was such a sweet little being.  So, I started researching the internet. Luckily, I eventually connected with Enzyme Diane. Thank Goodness… because of Enzyme Diane we were able to afford the enzymes for Izzy and I will forever be grateful to her!

In the meantime, I was troubled that there wasn’t more current EPI information out there, EPI research was not really being pursued, and that it was a misnomer that only GSDs and Rough Coated Collies got EPI. So, Epi4Dogs was born.

The objective of Epi4Dogs was and continues to be to bring better awareness to the condition and to help those struggling with EPI. And to further EPI research in hopes of finding answers as to why EPI happens. Epi4Dogs now has over 4,000 members and has assisted almost 3,000,000 people world-wide since it’s existence. And finally, EPI is now recognized in all breeds. 

Over the years, Epi4Dogs has connected with some of the best veterinarian researchers and veterinarian universities worldwide. Some have collaborated with us on research, some have advised and guided us, others have sought us out for advice and information. We have been published multiple times and have presented at many seminars and conferences through the years. Some of the EPI research that Epi4Dogs has collaborated on has been on Genetics, Bile Acids, Dysbiosis, Vitamin Supplementation, Metabolomics, Microbiome, Slippery Elm, Enteric Coated Enzymes, etc.

In honor of Izzy’s legacy and all the advances that have been made because of her inspiration. I would like to acknowledge and thank those that have helped us accomplish so much.  First, I am forever thankful to:

* Dr. David A Williams (Univ of Illinois), the premier vet researcher & developer of the gold-standard TLI test who has become my mentor in all things EPI and who guided and advised me along the way.  Dr. Williams is also the lead investigator in multiple EPI research projects along with:
* Dr. Patrick Barko (Univ of Illinois), an innovative and rising star in research, currently one of the lead researchers in the Metabolomic & Microbiome study. 
* Dr. Leigh Anne Clark (Clemson Univ) who has done multiple EPI genetics studies and is continuing her work on EPI genetics.
* Dr. Jan Suchodolski (Texas A&M Gastrointestinal Lab /TAMU) who has also done multiple studies on EPI gut flora/microbiome.
* Dr. Kate Tsai (Clemson)
* Dr. Jorg Steiner (TAMU),
* Dr. Cyrus (TAMU)
* Dr. Anne Mossler (Germany),
* Dr. Penny Watson (UK)

All who have all contributed to Epi4Dogs and EPI Research.  

And last but not least, a very special and heartfelt thanks to Craig Taylor who created our fantastic website, and to the wonderful, staff at Epi4Dogs (Andrea, Ann, Barb, Craig, Dar, Devika, Diane, Elisabeth, Fiona, Jean, Jill, Judy, Julie, Madelon, Paula, Shirl, Staci, Susan, Terry and Tracey). All who volunteer their time and knowledge 24/7 to help others.

Thank you to all who have helped make Epi4dogs be what it is today and may Izzy’s EPI legacy continue to help others for as long as needed…………..

Olesia C. Kennedy, Founder
Epi4Dogs Foundation, Inc.

Rilind's passing January 2, 2020

It is with deep sadness to share that Rilind has passed away on January 2, 2020, (FB page Rilind Reborn)

Eight years ago, Rilind was found tossed in a dumpster, left like trash . He was a mere 37 lbs.
                                        

 He was rescued by the Pit Sisters who lovingly cared for him and their vet diagnosed him with EPI  (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency). In the many years that followed, Rilind has been fostered and then adopted by wonderful people who continued to lovingly care for him. Rilind became the “spokesdog” for dogs in need, with EPI, and against breed-specific legislation.

He was show-cased on all Epi4Dogs marketing materials and this website and his story and pictures literally stopped crowds at vet conferences and causing people to ask “what is EPI??” which helped us bring better awareness to EPI.  His story and pictures have also been shared world wide with other veterinarian schools in many countries outside the USA printed in their vet journals, posters, discussed in their vet school classes.  Rilind was loved by thousands and our hearts are broken now that he is gone…. but his legacy will continue to live on and help those struggling with EPI . 

Epi4Dogs at the 2019 AVMA Conference

Epi4Dogs, Founder, President and Vice President were in attendance (booth #2092) at the 2019 AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association Conference) August 2nd thru August 6th in Washington, D.C.


                                                                                                              Diane S (left) with Madelon H (right)

https://www.avma.org/Events/Convention/Pages/default.aspx

University of Illinois collaboration

In an effort to find possible triggers to EPI, Epi4Dogs has collaborated for the past 3 years with the University of Illinois on the Maya Metabolomic Study. The study is almost completed and the results are expected to be published end of summer/fall time 2019.

Epi4Dogs President's visit with Rilind December 2018

December 26, 2018, our President, Madelon Hale got to visit with Rilind, the famous EPI dog.  Here they are together:

New EPI Dog Research- Aug 22, 2018

EPI Dogs & Lipid Soluble Vitamin Research just published Aug 22, 2018 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.  Key investigators Drs. Patrick Barko & David Williams, Univ of Illinois. Epi4Dogs assisted with the patient registry for this study and funding. Epi4Dogs was not involved with the design nor interpretation of any of the findings. The full research can be read on the Epi4Dogs EPI Research page: https://epi4dogs.com/epi-research/ 

Seminar slides now available

Slide Presentations from the EPI (EXOCRINE PANCREATIC INSUFFICIENCY) SEMINAR on Sept 7, 2017  in Lebanon, TN are on the EPI Seminar page: http://www.epi4dogs.com/epi-seminar 

 
EPI is manageable

Before & After

Images of our pups when diagnosed and after proper treatment

Watch this tremendous tribute to the efforts of many members in successfully managing EPI from diagnosis to stability.

This is Rilind, rescued by The Pit Sisters a wonderful organization, who joined our EPI forum and properly diagnosed Rilind with EPI…

…and this is Rilind, 3 months later after proper treatment for EPI was implemented!

Rilind has been adopted to his forever home….. please feel free to follow his story on Rilind Reborn Facebook page!

The

Chunky Monkey Club!

Success stories from the EPI forum

 
EPI4dogs on
TUESDAY TIPDon't forget to send in pictures of your EPI pet for our 2022 calendars. Email your pictures to epipics0059@gmail.com. ... See MoreSee Less
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2 days ago

Cindy Bernath
Hi. Im new here. My 12 year old yorkipoo just got diagnosed with EPI. His name is Brinkley. He started the enzymes last Thursday at evening feed. He’s also getting B12 shots. Im concerned because he’s having diarrhe. Before it was very loose stool but not diarrhea. He’s bowel movements have slowed down. But the diarrhea has started. Calling his vet in the morning. Was wondering if anyone had suggestions. Thank you ... See MoreSee Less
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We would never forget our feline EPI members in the Epi4Dogs Foundation calendars! Here are just two of our regal cats from the 2021 EPI calendars. If you are interested in having your EPI pet in a 2022 calendar, all you have to do is send us a photo (or two)! All pets submitted will be in a calendar. What you need to know:-Pictures and being accepted until August 31, 2021.-Pictures need to be emailed to: EPIpics0059@gmail.com-Please feel free to take and submit as many pictures as you’d like of your EPI companion. The pictures can be funny pictures, beautiful poses, action shots, pictures with family, friends, selfies or even just playing with other canine/feline/or other critter friends. -We are honored to also include those EPI companions that we have had to sadly say goodbye to. Each pet that has passed will have one calendar month dedicated to them in one of the EPI calendars as their Memorial page. Please…when emailing your pictures:-Include your first & last name and your pet’s first name-For memorial pictures, please also include beginning and ending dates-Email your pictures as attachments-Pictures need to be good resolution, (at least 300kb). Pictures taken with cell phones and cameras are usually high enough resolution, however, pictures downloaded from FaceBook accounts most likely will not be accepted as their resolution is not high enough. In October, Calendars will be available to order directly from the calendar store. As in the past, you can first view all the calendars on the Epi4Dogs “EPI Products” page and we will provide the direct link for you to order your calendar directly from CreatePhotoCalendar.Calendar cost is $28 per calendar + shipping cost. All net donations from these calendars will go in their entirety to our 501c 3 public charity organization: The Epi4Dogs Foundation, Inc.A full accounting of the calendar fundraiser will be posted on the Epi4Dogs website. As in the past, we will continue to allocate calendar donations completely to EPI Research and EPI Awareness and we will continue to distribute all donations in the same manner.“Epi4Dogs Foundation Inc.’s mission is the advancement of science and education relating to EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), yielding useful insights and positive outcomes in better managing EPI in dogs and cats. Our goals are to support and/or collaborate with veterinary EPI research and researchers, and to promote EPI awareness by educating the general public, pet owners, pet organizations, rescue and shelter organizations, veterinary schools and veterinarians.”Zero dollars go to administration fees as Epi4Dogs is a 100% volunteer organization. ... See MoreSee Less
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Our Contacts

Contact Madelon the President or Olesia the Founder of EPI4dogs directly using the details below. Also visit our contact page to send our volunteer staff an email.

 To contact individuals responsible for specific Epi4Dogs.com activities please see the Our Team page.

 

 

Call our Founder & Research Director, Olesia Kennedy on

(+1) 919-302-9892

Email our  Executive President Madelon Hale at